- At the Desert Retreat House-
About a year ago we equipped the windows of our desert home with "permanent shades" designed to protect the house form the harmful rays of the intense desert sun- the shades came with a "lifetime guarantee." A few days ago the mechanism of one of the shades broke and now needs to be repaired and I've been grumbling about it ever since - so much for permanent sunshades that will last a lifetime.
Yesterday I was browsing through an article in a Buddhist periodical that I read from time to time and came across this quote:
Everything that has a beginning has an ending.
Make your peace with that and all will be well.
Attachment is our unwillingness to face that reality.
I wondered if this article had been written for me?
At some deep level we all know that "everything breaks" - and yet in our day to day living we find that this obvious truth is so often ignored and suppressed. Somehow we like to convince ourselves that sunshades really can last a lifetime, and that we will always have all our stuff in life- our things, money, possessions, status. At some level many of us may even have convinced ourselves that our bodies are here to stay and when we see signs that this may not be the case, it's time for a facelift or some plastic surgery.
As I see it, we cling so tightly to this life because perhaps we may imagine that if we cling tightly enough, everything we have will last forever - a false delusion if ever there was one.
Sunshades break, houses crumble to dust, kids grow up, careers end, bodies get old, faces get wrinkled, we all die, no one ever carts their bushels of money with them into the grave - and in the overall scope of things, this all happens rather quickly, in the blinking of an eye.
At some level the thought of the "impermanence" of it all sounds somewhat depressing. But, as I see it, the realization that "everything breaks" is exceptionally freeing. It allows me to let go of the tight grip I have on my life, it gives me permission to give up that debilitating tendency to control it - to enjoy what comes my way and then set the moment free.
But there is yet another reason why I find such joy and freedom in the realization that "everything breaks." When it breaks, all is not lost, something else remains. This is the great paradox of the spiritual journey--brokenness is the doorway to wholeness. When the ego breaks we find our "true self." When everything else in our life breaks and all is turned to dust, "Love" remains, "Love" never ends, "God" abides.
Christians are now half-way through the Lenten season. Maybe this is a good time to call to mind how the season first began - ashes on the forehead and the words:
Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return.
Maybe another way of saying this is: "Everything breaks." - not at all a depressing thought. In fact these are tidings of comfort and joy not just for Christians but for all human beings.
Good news- everything breaks!
Listen to my podcast: "Desert Wisdom"